With KiwiRail in a state of flux, our region now has the opportunity to plan for a ‘fit for purpose’ railway service to
fulfil the needs of Gisborne & HB using ‘local knowledge and expertise’ that has been at the coalface for years, but was left shunned and ignored and
not included in any planning under the recently departed KiwiRail leadership.!
Since Gisborne and HB collectively produce over a third of NZs export potential, surely we should have some skin in the
game as to how the goods we produce should be freighted through our two provinces, right?’
We now want to see the importance of ‘Ontrack’ (the former rail infrastructure provider) recognised again, with the below rail infrastructure
separated from KiwiRail.
This radical but essential change is required to enable rail in NZ to help the country shoulder its obligations re
greenhouse gases, carbon neutrality etc and ‘Ontrack’ now should be recreated by the Government as the fully funded rail
network provider, the same way that our National roading system is funded, for perpetuity; as it was between 2004 and
2008 under the Labour Government of Helen Clark with her Minister of Finance (the late) Michael Cullen. This being the
Government that bought our rail system back into Government ownership again after a decade of a failed privatisation
model that stripped the rail system and deferred track and rolling stock maintenance, which proved a total disaster for
"Ontrack" must then modify for today’s ‘fit for purpose’ railway service to operate the rail network as an ‘open access’
network, as used all over the world now.
This then allows other users (in addition to KiwiRail), who would pay for the use of the railway network for their
services with a fee per kilometre (Track User Charges), as is done on the countries roading network with road user
charges, that is placed on truck freight and other road service users currently.
This can be enhanced by the use of what is called globally as a ‘short line model’ by using a Mixed use train
system, (Mixed trains were once prolific in NZ when the rail freight demand is low, carriages are added to the train to
offer passengers and tourism opportunities.
CEAC along with interested rail companies held a ‘rail transport forum’ in HB in March 2013 at the HB Regional Council
and at this forum, our members with HBRC in attendance, brokered a plan to lease the rail line from KiwiRail, between
Napier and Gisborne, to offer this plan model for service.
So we already had plans in place to advance an operating service with interested parties then, as long as Government
would place the rail infrastructure back under the former Helen Clark model with ‘Ontrack’ (as the below rail owner and
maintainer) firmly back in control and operate a safe service to use, just the same as the roading network system
operates in NZ, with "Ontrack" supported by full government funding to carry out a safe service 24/7 all under a new
ministerial portfolio as “Minister of rail” again as was we had when rail was owned by the public before 1984.Environmental climate change issues to consider here.
We know that trains use steel wheels and have ‘low fiction travel‘
and this means that travel with rail freight is far cheaper than road freight, because with less friction than road
(and no pollution from tyre rubber), rail freight uses far less fuel per KM per tonne travel than road freight uses and
can be readily electrified.!
The takeout here is; ‘Less Transport fuel use is far better for our global efforts for ‘cutting greenhouse emissions.’
Last week we sent a press release entitled ‘KiwiRail If You Don’t Restore Gisborne Rail Give It Back’ That was a warning
to KiwiRail to restore the Gisborne rail service or give it to the regions to use it, so now we need to do this, so with
a change of leadership at KiwiRail and hopefully the creation of "Ontrack" we will expect some change to a fruitful
partnership with the new CEO and we are happy to assist in that transformation to a more fruitful active role with
future planning of rail use in our two highly productive North East coast provinces.
We will be recognised as ‘being on the right side of history’ for our efforts of ‘cutting greenhouse emissions, making a
far cleaner safer land for the future generations to come.